My Top Five Favorite Distributions for 2010

by Susan Linton - Dec. 19, 2010Comments (25)

GNU/LinuxMs. Carla Schroder shared a list of her "bestest distros" recently, so I thought I might follow suit. She called hers "not-usual" and looking at her list, I'd say my choices are probably a little more usual. In any case, here are my top five favorite Linux distributions for 2010, in no real order.


SimplyMEPIS has always been one of my favorite distributions for several reasons. SimplyMEPIS was one of the first to understand that looks do matter and so does out of the box functionality. It includes proprietary drivers, codecs, and browser plugins that make using Linux enjoyable. It leans toward the conservative side concerning new version of its components, but that makes for an extremely stable operating system. In all its years I only ran into one release that gave me any trouble, and that was about three or four years ago - possibly when it went through its Ubuntu phase. It is truly one of the best.

2. openSUSE

openSUSE has been one of my favorites since it first opened up to community involvement in 2005. Novell's agreement with Microsoft did damper my enthusiasm a bit, but the distro itself remains one of the most polished and professional offerings we have. It just has a commercial feel to it. Like SimplyMEPIS, I only encountered one release that gave me any trouble. Otherwise, its been a slick and attractive distro. I don't run it full time mainly because I'd have to hunt up some one-clicks (that are available for openSUSE) or install codecs and stuff myself to get going and then worry about those updates. But it always remains high on my radar. I follow its development very closely. I'm a little worried about what will become of it despite assurances. But as long as it lives, so will my admiration.

3. Linux Mint

Well, I don't think too many people could disagree with me on this one. Linux Mint is an excellent distribution for users of all levels, but perhaps especially new users and experienced users who are tired of futzing around and just want to install and go. While that characteristic is shared with SimplyMEPIS, Linux Mint is a bit more up-to-date with latest goodies without giving up too much stability. I've had a few issues with it over its lifetime, but nothing too serious. One thing that bugs me about it is that I have to use the hardware restricted driver utility to get drivers for my wireless NIC and graphics chip. I have to run a wire to my laptop from the switch each new install in order to get my wireless Ethernet chip to work. That's a bummer. But still Linux Mint is my preferred Linux for my aging laptop because it's small (one CD and approximately a two gigabyte install) and lightweight enough.

4. Mandriva

Mandriva has sure had its problems over the years and most recently its very existence was in peril. Despite its years of financial issues, the distribution itself has often been very good. Sure, it isn't always the most stable, but they commonly walk that cutting-edge line. In recent years I've really liked the appearance and I've always liked the Mandriva tools. The Drake-tools are still really the only significant competition to openSUSE's YaST. Like openSUSE, the future of Mandriva is still a bit uncertain, but for now, Mandriva remains one of my favorite distributions.

5. Sabayon

I used Gentoo for many years - and I enjoyed Gentoo for many years. But a couple of years ago I began to grow tired of all the work. Sabayon was born to provide an easy binary distribution based on Gentoo, but for several years, wasn't exactly the most stable and sometimes had other issues. But since the 5.0 series was introduced, it has been pretty and stable. It's repositories are fairly well stocked and updates come fast. It also treads on that cutting edge that I tend to prefer. So in the last year, Sabayon has become my everyday desktop Linux. I'm moved in and comfortable. I just might move though when its developers release their Christmas Gaming Edition.

These are the top five I prefer to actually use. There are many projects I admire and many many distributions I like and have to test each release.

John Mark Walker uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


Glad to see openSUSE (and the others, for that matter) on here instead of Ubuntu and a bunch of nearly identical derivatives.

As for one-click installers, I'm not sure what it is that you're wanting to install, but I've found all the software I need from the community repositories (which YaST conveniently lists) or from opensuse build service. You may know all of this, but I thought to point it out just in case some readers were worried about the availability of software.

Also, for what it's worth opensuse offers to install a ton of proprietary codecs like Flash the first time you go to update the system. No need to install them or keep them current yourself!

Thanks for this list!

0 Votes

Glad to see some love for Mandriva. I use it and PCLinuxOS, which we all know was originally a remaster of Mandriva, but now totally forked into its own distribution. I simply can't live without Draketools. I just don't see the point of doing things the hard way, and all those scripts that automagically setup your system don't always work like they're supposed to. Draketools to the rescue...

0 Votes

1. Mepis - The most closed open source distribution. It is very hard to obtain any of the source code to the Mepis tools even though its creator has mentioned many times in the past they would be made available.

2. openSUSE - it is association with Microsoft is a big turn off for many Linux users. Their patent agreement with Microsoft gave legitimacy to the claim the Linux infringes on Microsoft patents. Add in mono support leaves this distribution as undesirable.

3. Linux Mint - The creator of Linux Mint once blogged his hatred for Israel and the Jewish people. He later apologized for his outburst. It does not change the fact he does not care for the Jewish population. A leopard cannot change his spots. I cannot use this distribution in good conscience.

4. Mandriva - Poor developer management and allowing developers too much control of the direction of this distribution just about ruined it forever. The good part is most of the arrogant employees have gone to Mageia. Mandriva is the one to watch in 2011.

5. Sabayon - I have no experience with this distribution nor have I heard anything bad about their developers or user base.

0 Votes

Mepis and Mandriva are very good.

I like Sabayon but wouldnt recommend it to friends.

BIG ommision: PCLinuxOS.

No way SUSE and Linux Mint are better.

I install Mandriva and PCLinuxOS on most newbie computers but since 2007 PCLInuxOS has been THE one.

Installed it about 30-40 times in the past 3-4 years and its been spectacular.

It was a bigger deal about 3 years ago when Wifi was still a huge problem and it was one of the only ones that always worked.

Actually, to be honest.... these choices are only important for power users.

For newbies, it doesnt matter as long as it works. A user will not have a worse experience with choice A rather than choice C.

Most distros are so identical that if you put on the same wallpaper most people can NOT tell the difference.

I kept gving friends live CDs to try but they kept saying that it all looks the same.

For the past 18months, I only give two choices (old hardware gets XCFE automatically) to newbs: KDE or GNOME. Thats the only choice they need to make. I give them both to try (i have a spare laptop that quadruple boots) because the desktop has to be pleasant to THEM. Not me, not you and certainly not to some UI specialist who thinks that 8pt fonts are actually usable.

And that is the big problem. Linux geeks are very protective of 'their' distros, having a new user to Linux NOT choose their distro is a blow to their ego.

Same applies to desktops.

No, you make the user choose what HE prefers.

Some of our LUG members are a tad miffed that people choose KDE over 75% of the time at installfests because its not 'their' desktop.

That said, these are personal taste columns but how about a top 5 list of distros for low powered computers?

If find this list changes a lot more through the years and many more people are trying Linux by giving life to old hardware. The amount of installs on P3, P4 and Celeron computers are a lot more common (to me and our LUG) than those on brand new machines. (those tend to favour dual boots).

0 Votes

I would second the above comment about PCLinuxOS, if Mepis is your No 1 because of its "out-of-the-box" functionality, PCLinuxOS should at least be equal as its by far the easiest OS to use from a straight install, but beyond that it covers everything for advanced users. On top of that it is rock solid.

0 Votes


"3. Linux Mint - The creator of Linux Mint once blogged his hatred for Israel and the Jewish people."

What utter rubbish. He simply asked that those whom supported Israel and it's oppression of the Palestinians not use or contribute o the project. How idiots like you keep twisting that into "hatred for Israel" is an amazing example of utter stupidity and ignorance.

As for the article, Mint is nice, I've loaded it up for several who are trying linux out, and they love it.

Not a fan of opensuse, and nothing to do with any deals Novell made with MS. I just got sick of arm-wrestling with it to get anything done.

Mepis is ok, but just never really did it for me. Good fallback as a live cd tho.

Very fond of Mandriva, and use PCLinuxOS on several of the desktops here. Would be using Mandriva, but the range of software available for PCLOS is much greater.

Looked at Sabayon a few times, but it never really grabbed me. Been a while tho, so might take a look again. :)

0 Votes

I would third (or "fourth") the commentators who have already suggested PCLinuxOS as a top-five distribution.

As the PCLinuxOS website describes it:

--- begin quote ---

PCLinuxOS 2010.12 holiday CDs are now available for KDE 4, Gnome, LXDE, XFCE and Enlightenment desktops featuring the latest updates from the PCLinuxOS software repository. All CD features kernel kernel for maximum desktop performance. Nvidia and ATI fglrx driver support. Multimedia playback support for many popular formats. Wireless support for many network devices. Printer support for many local and networked printer devices. Addlocale allows you to convert PCLinuxOS into over 60 languages. GetOpenOffice can install Open Office supporting over 100 languages. MyLiveCD allows you to take a snapshot of your installation and burn it to a LiveCD/DVD. PCLinuxOS-liveusb – allows you to install PCLinuxOS on a USB key disk.

--- end quote ---

It makes using Linux much more enjoyable.

In my book, PCLinuxOS is now "truly one of the best"!

0 Votes

Susan - thanks for the post. I can't fault your personal choices. Have always been meaning to try Gentoo / Sabayon - on my list for when I eventually get some "indoor weather" and some free-time. Nowadays I'm definitely MEPIS or straight Debian. So far MEPIS 11 development is looking pretty good.

@ Nelson

What utter rubbish.

MEPIS code for Warren's tools is released under an Apache license. Warren did this some time ago so that the Community could help him work on them. If you need the code, drop by the MEPIS forums and we'll point you in the right direction.

And next time you want to post that sort of rubbish again - why don't you try asking either the Developer (Warren) or the Community .....

0 Votes

Glad to see some sanity here. I get sick of hearing the Ububtu drum beats!

I tried Pclinuxos (where I am typing this), but the overall polish is not quite the same as Mandriva. I am happy to wait (again!) for Mandriva to fully recover and I will keep supporting the Power Pack distro.

On top of that, I prefer RPM to DEB. The Mandriva tools and package manager just works for me, every time. I also like the KDE themes, very seldom change anything but the screen saver!

Don't get me started on Ubuntu (which my wife is currently running) and WiFi...!!!

Curious about Mepis, will give it a try next time I have time to play!

0 Votes

All the distros mentioned above have their merits and problems just like any other distro. Still, I find Ubuntu easier to install, maintain and obtain answers to problems which eventually every distro has to face. I like trying out different distros when they are released but in the end go back to Ubuntu for ease of use, that it looks simple and beautiful and has an incredibly thriving community.

0 Votes

@Susan Linton

It is regrettable that this blog, while giving space to expressions of Jewish hatred against humanity, does not allow even the slightest criticism against Jewish racist and genocidal practices. It is this an ugly complicity with crime or just plain cowardice?

0 Votes

@ Nelson

Your post labels someone who expressed legitimate opposition to widely-known Israeli genocidal pratices as a “Jewish-hater”. This is a gross attempt to defame and to incite hatred against those who stand against genocide and other crimes, just because they were perpetrated by Jews.

0 Votes

@ Susan,

Thanks much for year-end 2010 review of linux distros :)

@ Jaboatao and other possible thread hijackers

Let's get away from obvious political-trumpeting, shall we, and maybe return to the topic of Susan's Top Five Favorite Distributions of 2010, yes?

1. The official SimplyMEPIS release version was back at the end of march of this year. And it is still 2010 for at least another week. Susan and others have had the time to use simplyMEPIS. The latest release version of PClinuxOS, however, just came out last week. Worthy as PClinuxOS probably is though, it is understandable how SimplyMEPIS comes out first here, being longer in its stable release version during most of year 2010.

2. OpenSUSE has alway been a good distro, following way after the footsteps of SuSE Linux AG. It's comparable to Fedora Core and its relationship to Red Hat. Now that the parent Novell's SUSE is mostly bought out, it doesn't seem too clear whether OpenSUSE will fade away, be taken over completely and buried by Novell's new owners, or somebody else maybe taking over to lead OpenSUSE separate and away from the Novell mothership. Whatever, YaST has been superb!

3. Linux Mint and other Ubuntu-based's. Thread hijackers take note: this is a technical-based comment here on are hereby invited to please take your solely-political rantings onto other online forums! >:[

The Ubuntu-based distros like Mint are indisputably among the very tops for computer newbies and those coming from the Windows world.

Good online support communities and super easy to use. Mint is smooth as pie. One can see why there are so many Ubuntu and Mint advocates!!

Maybe only more heated advocates for Puppy Linux.

Come to think of it, why does nobody else mention Puppy Linux here??

4. Mandriva. Once was Mandrake, and both are or maybe were based on the great r.p. manager of Red Hat. Cutting edge and fast! Maybe Mandriva just waiting to take off and become as popular as Fedora. Or not....?? Hmmmm......

5. Sabayon is cool!! Super easy and quick to install and upgrade.

Not for those low-hardware pc's, so those like anonypenguin won't be so pleased (LUbuntu could be a Ubuntu Linux distro more in line with such needs). Yet Sabayon happens to have absolutely the most distro-release versions in 2010, so this is certainly active, and it is uber understandable why Susan uses Sabayon. Maybe as good or better than the high-end Ubuntu's and Mint; all on a single DVD.

Thanks again for this distro list, Susan, and let's hope that political-ranters just go elsewhere!

0 Votes

Ubuntu is good and popular distribution Can be considered to this list.


0 Votes

my two cents here on distros that pleased me in 2k10:

lmde (squeeze)

foresight (rpath)

nexenta (opensolaris)

ubuntu lucid lts (squeeze)

0 Votes

Ubumtu blows, THese are real linux distros. NOt poor cloned FaNboy distros.

0 Votes

If you don't mind futzing around a little bit, you still can't beat pure unadulterated Debian stable.

0 Votes

Its the old "you're either with us or against us" attitude used by many jewish people. It is very sad that if you don't agree with how Isreal has acted you are taged a jew hater or a nazi. Sad.

Go mint. Btw after making the comments the Mint founder twisted himself up like a pretzel apologizing. This is the only issue on planet earth that is off bounds for debate in certain countries.

0 Votes

Hi Susan, on your list of three least desirable distro the only one I miss is Ubuntu, famous for regressions and a buglist miles long.

If SuSE would get rid of Yast and have a higher qa, it would be half annoying. However, it is a big Linux vendors community branch, a test bed for new technologies. But I wouldn't want to see Fedora on the list either, alone for their short support cycles. And Mint is indeed a political thing, brought into discussion by Mint's head, Clem. No one asked him for displaying his complete lack of background and understanding concerning N.E. matters, he did this on his own. So, leaving my hands off Mint is because(!) politics shouldn't have a place in a community, where working together has top priority and discrimination of gender, views etc has no place.

PCLinuxOS definately should have a place on 2010's distro niceties, as should RedHat 6.

0 Votes

Had it been a Top 10 list of significant distros, PCLOS definitely would have been there.

Ubuntu probably would have made it too, not because I like it or use it, but because it is significant. It has really rallied the viral voice and made inroad into the wide marketing landscape. It seems to the be the distro of choice for many hardware retailers that include a Linux option. It has been a force.

But alas, this was a /My/ top 5 favs list that I actually use. In fact, PCLOS is on /my/ list as well at probably 6 or 7. I like Vector, Frugalware, Pardus - Pardus is really great. Of course Slackware remains a long time favorite. I use Debian as the workhorse on my server. There's just so many and most are great in their own way. I could make do with any of them. But as long as I have a choice, ...see above. :D

0 Votes

Very nice list. Nice to see two distributions that worked for me when switching to Linux (Mandriva and openSUSE). Ubuntu was the first one I tried at that time but it didn't convince me. Apps and desktop just left much to be desired. Some time later I found out about Kubuntu and this was a lot better although it did have some problems with the desktop. So after some advices from other friendly Linux people I was told to try Mandriva and openSUSE for good distributions with good integration of KDE desktop and software and indeed with those two I was almost in heaven. Currently I use Mandriva with KDE as my main computer desktop. The main reason I chose Mandriva over openSUSE is that Mandriva has this wonderful Control Center than I haven't seen yet in any other Linux. Can't wait to see future releases of Mandriva and I will also try Mageia when they release something. If they manage to even improve Mandriva then it may be just perfect.

0 Votes

If you guys want to run Hitler's Mint then knock yourselves out.

0 Votes

Even though it is not a 'true' distro, I think Android is the new runaway success here guys. After a pretty shaky, Microsoft-esque start, it has now become a real contender to Apple's iOS and can see important traction in the Tablet/hand-held market too.

0 Votes

@ Nelson,

I wasn't going to dignify your comment with a response, but I don't think I can let it go. You are way out of line here.

Yes, when Clem first said those things about Israel and our Jewish brothers I was very angry. I called for the boycott of Linux Mint. Look back at old copies of Linux Format Magazine. I think I wrote of it twice.

But Cailtyn Martin, I think it was, took the lead and explained to him why his views were one-sided. She recounted the history and current events surrounding the conflict.

And then Clem came out and said he had been wrong, he had only heard the one side before. He gave the most humble and sincerest apology I had ever heard. He meant it.

Being a Christian and one who considers the Jewish people our closest relatives, I accepted that. It was good enough for me. Forgiveness is one the cornerstones of the Christian faith. How can you receive forgiveness if your refuse to give it?

So just stop it. Judge not lest ye be judged.

0 Votes


Hitler was responsible for the creation of the Volkswagon. Is it your contention that the car company is evil too?

I personally know nothing about the Mint creator's political or religious views. Since I can use Mint without paying him or doing anything to personally affect him in any way, I don't see how it is even an issue. I use technology if it suits my needs at the time. In a similar fashion, I don't care about the political or religious leanings or even the general moral conduct of the creators of html, C++, Java, PHP, Pearl, Ruby or even Firefox. In fact, I actively despise the morals of Thomas Edison, yet I still use light bulbs and watch movies. This is because I understand that the technologies are NOT an extension of their ideologies.

0 Votes
Share Your Comments

If you are a member, to have your comment attributed to you. If you are not yet a member, Join OStatic and help the Open Source community by sharing your thoughts, answering user questions and providing reviews and alternatives for projects.

Promote Open Source Knowledge by sharing your thoughts, listing Alternatives and Answering Questions!